Haiti

Report of the Secretary-General on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (S/2009/439)

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I. Introduction

1. By its resolution 1840 (2008), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) until 15 October 2009, and requested me to report on its implementation semi-annually and not later than 45 days prior to its expiration. The present report covers major developments since my report of 6 March 2009 (S/2009/129) and the progress made in the implementation of the mandate of the Mission as set out in Security Council resolutions 1542 (2004), 1608 (2005), 1702 (2006), 1743 (2007), 1780 (2007) and 1840 (2008).

II. Political developments

2. During the reporting period, increased political cooperation permitted progress in a number of areas, including the holding of senatorial elections, the adoption of key legislation and the pursuit of an inclusive dialogue on a number of major issues facing the country, based on the work of a number of presidential commissions. This collaboration remained fragile, however, and subject to reversal, with a potential for renewed tensions and conflict among and within the governing institutions of Haiti, and a continued readiness on the part of influential forces within the country to inflame public tensions to further their own interests.

3. The first round of elections to fill 12 vacancies in the Senate was held on 19 April. While conditions were generally peaceful, a series of violent incidents led to the cancellation of the vote in the Centre Department and to the closure of voting centres in the Artibonite Department. The second round of elections in the nine departments other than the Centre Department was held on 21 June, without significant disruptions. The rerun of the first round of elections for a Senate seat in the Centre Department is expected to be held once the authorities take action on the basis of the investigation conducted by the Provisional Electoral Council.

4. The election results were officially published on 24 July. The representatives of Lespwa, which served as the electoral platform of President René Préval in 2006, were successful in 6 out of 11 races, while a single seat was won by representatives of the Fusion, KONBA, LAAA and OPL parties respectively and a further seat was won by a candidate who ran as an independent. The seating of these 11 Senators could pave the way for a more effective legislature, whose functioning has been hampered by difficulties in convening a quorum. In order for the successful candidates to assume their functions, however, the Constitution requires that they be validated by their peers. A number of sitting Senators have threatened not to validate the elected candidates until allegations of electoral tampering have been clarified, while others have threatened to block the validation process on the grounds that the legitimacy of the elections was undermined by the exclusion of the Fanmi Lavalas party (see S/2009/129, para. 13).

5. To date, limited progress has been made towards the implementation of the joint legislative agenda agreed upon by representatives of the Government and Parliament in December 2008. Of the 31 laws and 10 conventions on the agenda, nine laws have been adopted and nine conventions ratified by Parliament. Significant achievements over the reporting period include the adoption, on 2 June, of the 2008-2009 budget law, although this occurred eight months into the fiscal year, and only after prolonged, and at times acrimonious, exchanges between the Government and Parliament. The Government presented the 2009-2010 draft budget law to the Parliament at the end of June, in accordance with the timeline foreseen by the Constitution. The adoption of the law on public procurement by Parliament on 10 June fulfilled a critical requirement for forgiveness of a significant part of Haiti's external debt. Parliament also adopted on 11 May an amendment to the electoral law providing for an extension of the mandate allowing the collectivités territoriales to complete their constitutional term of four years by November 2010. Other pending items on the legislative agenda include regulations regarding the functioning and financing of political parties, and a draft Customs code, both of which have been adopted by the Chamber of Deputies.

6. The development of legislation regarding the minimum wage, which also featured on the legislative agenda, generated considerable political debate during the reporting period. In the absence of specific proposals from the Government, Parliamentarians developed legislation that would raise the minimum daily wage to G200 (approximately $5), almost three times the current level (G70). This proposal was criticized by industrialists and various experts on the grounds that such an abrupt increase could significantly undermine Haiti's competitiveness, at a time when the country is seeking to attract investors. Exercising his Constitutional prerogative, President Préval conveyed these objections in a letter to Parliament, in which he also suggested specific amendments. On 18 August, following several weeks of intense public debate and demonstrations in Port-au-Prince by students and workers, the Chamber of Deputies voted in favour of an increase of the minimum wage to G125 per day, as suggested by the President.

7. Meanwhile, one of the four Commissions established earlier in 2009 by President Préval to consider issues of national importance (see S/2009/129, para. 9), the Commission on Constitutional Reform, published its report on 10 July. The Commission proposes reforms in a number of areas, including provisions concerning the electoral cycle, dual citizenship, the security architecture and local authorities. The other three commissions - on justice reform, competitiveness and information technology - were expected to submit their reports before the end of 2009 or at the beginning of 2010. The Commission on Public Security, which was established in 2008, issued its findings on 6 August, as discussed in greater detail below (see para. 37).

8. The Haitian leadership has continued to work closely with the international community to develop a response to the country's security and development needs. On 14 April, I attended a major conference hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., co-chaired by the Prime Minister, Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis. The Conference brought together high-level representatives of Haiti's bilateral partners and resulted in pledges of $350 million in new assistance for the country over a two-year period, including $40 million in direct budgetary support. At the conference, the Government of Haiti presented its twoyear Plan for Reconstruction and Economic Recovery, with a total budget amounting to $1.4 billion, which focused on job creation and economic growth, together with the challenges associated with the provision of electricity, private sector development, disaster risk management, agriculture and social services.

9. The potential for tensions along the border with the Dominican Republic was highlighted by popular expressions of anger following two widely publicized murders in the Dominican capital, which claimed the lives, respectively, of a Dominican citizen and a Haitian immigrant. The leaders of the two countries worked together to promote calm, and stressed in public statements that the attacks reflected specific criminal acts between individuals. Nonetheless, the public response to the incident, as well as to disputes concerning licensing arrangements for transport companies operating between the two countries, served to highlight the continued sensitivity of cross-border issues. In this context, it is encouraging that the Haitian authorities have declared their intention to make rapid progress towards the establishment of the Haiti-Dominican Republic Joint Commission, which could help to address such misunderstandings and pre-empt escalation.

10. Haiti received a number of high-level visits during the reporting period, including the visit by the Security Council from 11 to 14 March (see S/2009/175) and the visit of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group of the Economic and Social Council from 4 to 7 May (see E/2009/105). I visited Haiti on 9 and 10 March, accompanied by the former President of the United States of America, William J. Clinton, whom I subsequently appointed as United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti, and who returned to the country in his new capacity from 6 to 8 July. As Special Envoy, President Clinton will assist the Government of Haiti and its people in their efforts to create new jobs, improve the delivery of basic services and infrastructure, strengthen disaster recovery and preparedness, attract private sector investment and garner greater international support. I am deeply grateful to President Clinton for his readiness to assume this function, which will be of great value in maintaining critically needed international engagement in Haiti.